I’ve always admired journalists.

A journalist who spends years researching a difficult subject – sacrificing personal time with a ferociousness to educate the rest of us – is someone to admire even more.

That’s how I felt recently when I met Beth Macy, author of “Dopesick,” at a charitable event in Washington DC.  Other journalists attended, but it was the audience I watched most, curious to see how this enclave of wealthy patrons might react to Macy’s message.

In “Dopesick” Macy devotes years to tracking families in and near her hometown of Roanoke, Virginia.  One mom, the wife of a local surgeon, cannot believe her daughter is an opiate addict.  When a family friend tells her “Your daughter’s an opiate addict” she has “a reaction not unlike that of many other parents faced with the same accusation.  She fumed, incredulous.  After all, Tess never missed a day of work.” (p.199)

A high school track star and an honor-roll student, Tess is 26 when Macy first meets her.  By then, Tess suffers from a daily need for opioids.  Without them, Tess becomes “dope sick.”

When Jacob’s high school teacher first told me my son might be using drugs, I, too, was incredulous.  I thought he had the wrong child.  Later, shame over my son’s possible substance abuse enveloped me.  Just like Tess’s mom, it kept me anxious, depressed, isolated and fearful.

Not until I listened to Macy that night that I realized – when Jacob was abusing drugs –  I, too, was “dope sick.”

As I scanned that elegant room, searching the faces of the men and women who sat placidly listening, I wondered if any of them were in hiding, isolated and fearful, as I had been.

Were others around me that night “dope sick,” too?

2 Replies to ““Dopesick””

  1. 1 in 3 that’s how many have direct knowledge of someone afflicted so I believe there were many in the room “Dopesick” (the book was just mentioned to me recently-glad you got to meet the author)

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